As you look for ways to save your pennies and dollars in these harsh economic times, look to the ones and zeros-software, that is-to eliminate inefficiencies, miscommunications and redundancies.

As you look for ways to save your pennies and dollars in these harsh economic times, look to the ones and zeros-software, that is-to eliminate inefficiencies, miscommunications and redundancies.

You know today’s economy is less than favorable. Do you have a plan to maintain-or potentially increase-profitability? Leaving no stone unturned in search of new print jobs might be a start, but using the latest solutions in printing efficiency software may prove the most helpful in maximizing profits…with your existing work!

Print management software today may address only a certain aspect of your production-prepress processes, for example-or can streamline the entire process from your client’s desktop through invoicing and delivery of the final product.

Print-specific configurations

A seamless workflow, from original file format to final printed product, can make or break a company’s operation. To this end, Symphony Flexo, an all-in-one suite from Xante, combines a raster image processor (RIP), workflow and resident die database into a single powerful interface. A SmartDie feature allows operators to instantly set up files using specific dies, distortion, trapping, screening and bearer bars for a specific output. According to Arthur Verwey, vice president of worldwide business development, recent improvements to Symphony Flexo include enhanced color management, integrated Pantone color libraries, DotSweep background noise remover, and new linearization and dot gain curve editing.

“The enhanced color management with integrated Pantone color libraries provides color consistency and better representation of spot colors from monitor preview, to proof to film and/or plate,” says Verwey. “DotSweep delivers even more control over output image quality by searching and eliminating partial dots in ‘RIPped’ files.”

Similar to the Xante offering, Kodak’s Prinergy handles and automates daily tasks and streamlines others, including color management, trapping and screening. The suite, says Stephen Miller, product manager for packaging and newspaper workflow, has been designed specifically for the packaging printer’s workflow.

“The system includes advanced automation and preflighting, enhanced file editing capabilities, support for multi-gamut printing and extended color management, a trapping feature that optimizes on press registration, manual and automated step-and-repeat functionality, and numerous halftone screening features for the flexo printer,” says Miller.

With the merger of Esko and Artwork Systems in 2007, the newly formed supplier, EskoArtwork, recently announced the integration of BackStage and Nexus, allowing users of the Nexus automatic workflow system to tap into the extensive job management capabilities of BackStage.

“The integration creates an exciting new level of modularity and flexibility for customers, who now have a clear growth path with many product possibilities,” explains Jan Ruysschaert, EskoArtwork vice president sales and marketing, commercial printing. “This creates exceptional benefits-for example, the ability to coordinate multiple output devices, improved color management and proofing, more powerful impositioning workflows and better abilities to let people, departments and systems work together.”

Operating here and now

Leading printing supplier EFI markets and regularly updates PSI Flexo, a full management system created with flexo printers in mind. One recent addition to PSI Flexo is PrintFlow, a dynamic scheduling application that links a printer’s assets, including its equipment, workcenters and front office staff. As Gerald Walsh, director of market development, explains, PrintFlow’s strong point is its ability to operate in the now.

“PrintFlow is a scheduling software that’s designed not only to manage a plant but to optimize the utilization of all equipment,” says Walsh. “One of the biggest changes has been improved real-time run lists provided to all the workcenters, collecting the information from the workcenters in real time. It gives a manager or a scheduler a dynamic tool for managing the plant, sequencing its jobs according to their characteristics and really improving the capacity utilization of the plant.”

“Digital Store Front, a web-to-print interface, is also being introduced with this,” says Dan Crnarich, director of product management at EFI. Crnarich explains that the customizable interface allows a printer’s customer to submit orders, browse a catalog of pre-defined jobs and manage existing print orders from their own desktop.

With just a few mouse clicks, several software suites allow managers and planners to see the larger picture and how certain jobs contribute to a printer's profit margins.

Bottom line intelligence

Radius Solutions also offers a comprehensive resource planning suite called Pecas Vision. David Taylor, president and chief executive officer, explains that the company’s latest add-on in its management information system includes a Business Intelligence (BI) application which surveys and transforms daily transactional data into relevant data that printers can use to improve operations.

“Companies implementing this solution can expect to gain immediate access to company performance information that can help them maximize existing resources, improve profit margins and better serve clients,” says Taylor. “For example, a user could see which clients are the most and least profitable, which jobs have the highest and lowest margins and how long it takes each client to pay invoices.”

Taylor explains the application also allows companies to perform hypothetical scenarios, for example, adjusting sales prices and materials costs and being able to see the potential profit margins.

“The benefits are immense for flexible packaging organizations to be able to easily identify where they are making money, where they are losing money and how they can immediately make changes to improve their bottom line-which is essential in today’s challenging economy,” says Taylor.

Whether you’re looking to bring print management software into your production for the first time or you’re flirting with the idea of upgrading your current suite, there’s little doubt efficiency software can benefit some or all of your printing business.




Radius Solutions

Web Exclusive: Future trends in efficiency software

Just as there are myriad software makers and configurations of titles available to flexible packaging printers today, there are several opinions on what the next step in the development of efficiency software will be.

For Gerald Walsh, director of market development at EFI, efficiency software will find a beneficial partner in variable data printing.

“It used to be, if we were printing packaging for 20 different locations, it was a matter of stopping the equipment, changing the plates, starting up again,” explains Walsh. “I don’t think you’re going to see as many as the ‘We need 2 million pieces of this’ product. I think it’s going to be more in the future, ‘Hey, we’d like to get 2,000 or 5,000 or 20,000 of this product, but we want it a different one for each location.’

“One thing about variable data, however, it’s no longer just a production question. It’s a management question. We have the ability to take that database, put it into an image, RIP it and create a file that can be delivered to an output device. And we have the ability then to create that variable output and give that company a new niche or a new capability. You need a good management process because of the amount of data that’s involved in the process.”

The current economic climate aside, though, the folks at Radius Solutions continue to invest in advancing its Business Intelligence (BI) title as competition will continue to be a critical business force even after an economic recovery.

“Now more than ever companies must be able to quickly and easily access the critical transactional data they collect every day, and turn it into actionable information from which they can make accurate and timely decisions to improve business performance,” explains David Taylor, president and chief executive officer. “We have been investing extensively in this area so that packaging companies will have a high quality BI solution that can help them quickly gain visibility into critical areas of their business-such as where they are making and losing money. Client feedback to the offering has been extremely positive and drives us to continue moving forward with additional solutions development in this area.”